Looking to operations: Lyte Aviation partners with Volatus Infrastructure & Energy
Lyte Aviation has partnered with Volatus Infrastructure & Energy Solutions (VI&E) to explore ecosystem requirements for operations such as landing pads, refuelling and charging.
Founded in 2021, VI&E offers three modular vertiport designs and charging stations for electric vehicles across air, land and sea. The firm is also exploring the integration of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure at its current and future bases allowing it to service hybrid VTOLs as well, such as Lyte’s LA-44 SkyBus.
Freshta Farzam, Lyte Aviation founder and CEO envisions a wide range of VTOL aircraft utilising the same hubs. “We have so many different fully battery-electric but also hybrid-battery electric or hybrid-hyrdogen electric solutions nowadays,” Farzam tells us. “The better equipped the infrastructure is with different refuelling or recharging stations, the more attractive it will become as a hub for several eVTOLs. Especially, when we land with our 40 passengers and we create new markets for air taxis to continue the journey of our passengers at the last mile. Wouldn’t it be great to have everyone taken care of at that same hub then?”
Lyte is developing the first 40-seat eVTOL, as well as a cargo variant known as SkyTruck LA44C, offering a payload capacity of 4.5 tons. Both variants are being designed to be five times more fuel efficient than a helicopter, and 10 times less noise polluting. Targeting commercial entry within five to six years, the aircraft’s power will come from hybrid-hydrogen-electric turboprops and electric engines, hence the need for refuelling options at vertiports.
Dan Sloat, VI&E Solutions CEO said: “Advanced Air Mobility will come in many different shapes, sizes and means of propulsions — including bold, game-changing designs like the LA-44 SkyBus. As infrastructure and energy providers we believe in the importance of accommodating as many designs as possible so that eVTOL operators have more safety divert options available for landing.”
Due to the size of the SkyBus, it needs a landing pad solution of approximately 40mx40m size that can carry the weight of a 17 ton aircraft. However, this is not much bigger than is required for some of the industry forerunners, according to Farzam. The SkyBus has a wingspan of 19m, for reference Archer’s Midnight has a wingspan of just over 12m, Joby’s comes in at 11.8m. “So, we need just slight adjustments for our infrastructure, compared to vertiports that are only designed for air taxis so far. We need a 40m x 40m vertiport for each of our SkyBus or SkyTruck. And jet fuel or SAF for our turboprops and hydrogen refuelling options for our electric engines,” says Farzam.
“Let’s not forget that hydrogen is an energy carrier, a giant battery that can be fed with the electricity we need to charge the air taxis for example,” she adds.
Farzam feels confident about Lyte’s second-mover advantage. “Definitely we have the second mover advantage, using the progresses that have been made so far but also building on it/ expanding the created ecosystem with new regional point to point routes and different refueling options,” she explains. Senior figures from other advanced VTOL developers such as Supernal and Airbus NextGen have also noted their belief in the benefits of being second.
Lyte’s founder is also confident about the expansion and scaling of the green hydrogen sector. “No, as I come from the green hydrogen upstream market, I know that more GW plants are in progress for the next decade,” says Farzam. “Meaning, in some parts we will have to use blue hydrogen maybe until we have access to green hydrogen everywhere. But until we get certified within 5-6 years, we are sure that the supply of SAF and green hydrogen will grow accordingly and maybe within 10 years, while we can go fully hydrogen-electric, by then, I am sure the supply has increased tremendously.”